China says artist Ai Weiwei can challenge $2.4m tax bill

Ai Weiwei
Image caption The artist claims the tax evasion charges are politically motivated

Chinese artist and political activist Ai Weiwei has been told he can challenge a huge tax bill in court.

He was charged with tax evasion linked to his design company Fake Cultural Development Ltd in 2011 and ordered to pay a $2.4m (£1.55m) fine.

The 54-year-old has said the tax bill is pay-back for his activism. He had to pay a $1.3m bond in January to appeal against the decision.

A court in Beijing has now said it will hear the case.

It is not yet clear whether Ai will actually appear at the hearing. He is a designer for Fake Cultural Development Ltd, but is not the company's legal representative.

'International fame'

The world-renowned artist told the BBC that he was surprised the authorities had agreed to let him challenge the case.

He has used his international fame to criticise China's communist-controlled government and highlight human rights abuses.

Last April, he was arrested and detained for 81 days at a secret location.

He was given a gagging order when released in June, but continued to tweet and speak to international media. He was then charged with tax evasion.

The Chinese authorities maintain that his company owes them money and it must be paid back.

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